The exercise found to be safe… unless you are over 60

You all know how important regular exercise is as you get older and there’s good news if you enjoy participating

You all know how important regular exercise is as you get older and there’s good news if you enjoy participating in yoga — it’s relatively safe. However, a large-scale study conducted by the University of Alabama at Brimingham has found that if you’re over 60 your risk of yoga-related injuries increases.

Increasingly popular across the globe, yoga participation in Australia has grown considerably in recent years and was said to be in the top 15 physical activities (not including walking) according to the Australian Sports Commission’s ‘Participation in Exercise Recreation and Sport in Australia’ published in 2007.

In the United States, where the study was conducted, there are roughly 37 million Americans participating in the practice of yoga.

“Yoga injuries are relatively rare, and as you might expect, the incidence tend to rise with the age of the participant,” Thomas Swain, a research assistant at the Center for Injury Sciences and first author of the study, says. “We did find that the injury rate is increasing over time, which may be a reflection of the increase in popularity of yoga, leading to an increase in inexperienced participants who do not take the necessary precautions to avoid injury.”

The study found that individuals aged 45-64 has an injury rate of 18 per 100,000 while those aged 65 and older experienced an injury rate of 58 per 100,000. Overall there were 29,590 yoga-related injuries during the course of the study, and almost half of these injuries were to participants’ trunk. Sprains or strains accounted for around 45 per cent of all injuries.

“The incidence of fracture was highest in the older population, some three times higher than in the younger population,” Swain says.

The study therefore concludes that having a qualified instructor lead you through a yoga session is all the more important if you are over 60. The authors also highlighted the importance of being physically capable of undertaking any sporting activity, such as yoga, before commencing.

“Talk to your physician before taking up yoga, be cautious, and recognise your personal limitations, particularly if you are over 65,” Swain says.

Have you practised yoga? How did you enjoy it? What activities make up part of your regular exercise routine?

  1. Pamela  

    Yoga messed up my lower back when I was 17 – over 50 years ago!

    We have a new dog who loves walks so we now do a 2km before breakfast, a 1km after lunch and another 1km before tea!

    We are both feeling better for it!

  2. Frank  

    I start most mornings with yoga – Salute to the Sun – – about 9 positions – plus I add 5 push-ups from the plank position – takes me about 90 seconds

    If my partner rises just before me, I first do a few exercises in bed – just twisting arms and legs in opposite directions to crunch my spine back into position if it was out a bit, then lay on my back and cycle lift my arms and legs 30-60 times, then onto my stomach and cycle lift my arms and legs 30–60 times – total about 3 minutes

    Then into the kitchen to fill the electric jug for coffee – and while waiting for that to heat, I stand on each leg in turn (strengthen ankles to avoid slip’n’fall hip fractures – a virtual death sentences for some old people)

    While doing so, with arms out straight, clench my hands together, and do isometrics, moving my arms from down low to back behind my head and back twice each, first pushing my hands together (shoulders?), then pulling my arms apart (shoulders?), then pushing one hand down and the other up (biceps and triceps), then reversing hand directions. After each leg I touch my toes and do a left/right turn/stretch as well – total about 90 seconds

    Then while I’m waiting for my coffee to filter, I do the yoga Salute to the Sun on the lounge room carpet – hold each position for 15 seconds – plus 5 push-ups – total about 2.5 minutes
    Total may be around 7 minutes per day – but 3 mins in bed (while I’m waiting to use the bathroom), 90 seconds standing (while the jug is heating), 2.5 minutes yoga (while my coffee is brewing) – it doesn’t feel like it’s taking up any time I need elsewhere !

    Oh – the only other exercise I do is walking most places as we live next to the CBD – and my doctor last time I saw her for annual checkup results – called me ‘The Perfect Man’ – I’m 63.

    • Frank  

      oh – I first started doing the Salute to the Sun – in 1974 – over 42 years ago.

    • Carolyn  

      Excellent, Frank! I do a few stretches in bed at night, but your routine sounds good for the morning. I might steal some of it!

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